Operating Theatre

The day in the OR

Today was a sort of a luxury for me: instead of organizing the project for most of the day, I was to shadow our electrician as he worked with the Cardiac Team, a group of 8 who came together to do about 20 specific surgeries, almost all lifesaving, that are not possible without heart bypass or similar specialization.  The electrical engineer didn’t come, and it turned out that the equipment all worked fine, but I was already in borrowed scrubs for the OR and got to hang out all day watching surgeries after working on a few mechanical things in the morning.  I was a little useful in the maintenance of some U.S. style plugs and testing a small bone cutting saw, but mostly I just watched and tried not to get in the way. 

The bone cutting saw (which has an official name starting with “S”) was run pneumatically, but not on air, instead they used pure medical grade oxygen!  Not only is this drastically more expensive than bottled air, it boggled my mind that they are running pure oxygen through high speed reciprocating metal parts.  But without compressed air, we didn’t have much of an option and nothing exploded so I guess it all worked out in the end. 

The first surgery of the day was the first cardiac surgery.  I watched the first hour, which was just the anesthesiologist prepping the patient and poked my head in a few times later.  One of the nurses got me right up behind the veil so I could see into her chest as you can’t see much of anything from the corner of the room.

Later in the afternoon, I was able to watch an exploratory lapro-something-or-other which found something we sent off into pathology which was allowing some small intestine contents into the bladder (ew).

Orthopedically, we had a massive fracture from a week ago motorcycle accident that hadn’t been treated properly at a smaller clinic.  Our doctor was just cracking off bone chips of “dead” bone to keep an infection from spreading. 

Possibly the most interesting surgery, a lady had been hit by a car, and separated most of the skin on one leg from the lower tissue.  That skin had to be removed so basically the entire leg had exposed tissue at least, if not muscle itself.  They used a machine very similar to the welder I’ve used in engineering which I’ll have more comments on in another post. 

All these patients did well and the cardiac valve replacement was recovering nicely, however, one patient from earlier in the morning whose surgery I did not see, coded and died.  Their surgery shouldn’t have had too many risks, but he wasn’t doing to well and went into respiratory distress in recovery. 

All in all, it was great to see the doctors in their element, praying with patients, then operating and in a number of cases on this busy day, saving their lives.


2 Responses to “Operating Theatre”

  1. Dominic Zarecki Says:

    Wow, Todd, it definitely sounds like you are in the right place! I’m impressed that you didn’t seem at all grossed out by any of the surgeries you watched. I sometimes feel weird just seeing that stuff on tv! Anyway, thanks so much for these updates, and I can’t wait to hear more.

  2. Joe Says:

    Dearest Todd,

    Damn you for having more fun with medicine than me.

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